When defenseman Bob Hoffmeyer was forced to hang up his skates in 1985 due to a knee injury, he probably never envisioned he would return to the ice more than a decade later even if it was for one minor league game.
Hoffmeyer was a fifth-round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks in 1975 and spent five seasons in their system. He played a year in Germany before returning at the end of the 1980-81 season when he signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Flyers. By 1983 he had become regular depth player with the New Jersey Devils.
Hoffmeyer was forced off the ice with the knee injury in 1985 but he stayed with the organization as a scout and coach. Though he left briefly to pursue head coaching jobs in junior and in the minor leagues, he was always lauded as one of Lou Lamoreillo's most loyal co-workers.
When the Devils were winning Stanley Cups in the 1990s Hoffmeyer was, like in his playing days, an unsung member of the team. He was the pro-scout, always looking for players to fill holes on the Devils' roster, or for trends and weaknesses of the opponents.
In an unlikely turn of events, Hoffmeyer was actually asked to play for the Devils' farm team on March 14, 1996. The Albany River Rats were short bodies due to injuries, so coach Robbie Ftorek asked Hoffmeyer to dress for the game.
"When I was told they were short, I went to find Robbie Ftorek. He was up on the concourse taking his usually nightly walk to sort out his thoughts. Robbie phoned Lou on a pay phone to see if it was all right for me to play. Lou said 'I guess so,' and Robbie hung up before Lou could change his mind."
Hoffmeyer spent most of the pre-game warm up trying to find equipment that fit. Not that Hoffmeyer got to play too much. The Rats lost 7-0 that night, though the 40 year old Hoffmeyer was only minus one.